How to Make Your Thanksgiving Favorites Gluten-Free

A table laden with a gluten-free thanksgiving dinner

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The thought of making a gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner may feel daunting—especially if you are new to gluten-free eating. After all, the traditional holiday meal tends to be high in gluten—think bread-based stuffing, flour-thickened gravy, and pumpkin pie.

But believe it or not, it's possible to make just about everything on the typical Thanksgiving table gluten-free without sacrificing flavor, richness, or the spirit of the holiday. The key is to know where the gluten lurks and how to replace it without taking away from the dish.

Sometimes, you can even find substitutions that make your favorite dishes even better. Once you're done, your guests might not even notice that everything on the table is safe for those who follow a gluten-free diet.

Whether you decide to use as shortcuts and pre-made gluten-free mixes, or make everything from scratch, you will find what you need below. From the turkey to the pie, here's what you need to do to make your holiday table gluten-free.


You can't go wrong with a simple turkey. Fresh, plain turkeys—those without any added broth, spices, or other ingredients—are always gluten-free. If you prefer a smoked or pre-flavored turkey, opt for smoking and flavoring your own. Using a wet or dry brine with all of your favorite spices and aromatics will help you produce a turkey that is both moist and delicious.

You also may want to discard the gravy packet that's often included with a turkey unless it specifically states "gluten-free." Most pre-made gravies and gravy mixes contain gluten, so making your own is the best way to ensure your gravy is gluten-free.


You don't need to mourn your favorite stuffing. It's very easy to make gluten-free stuffing, and once you add spices and other ingredients, your stuffing is likely to taste almost exactly the way you remember it.

To make your stuffing, you can use a pre-made gluten-free stuffing mix or simply use gluten-free bread crumbs from your own stale bread in your own traditional recipe—you shouldn't even need to alter the recipe. 

If you add spices, make sure they're from a safe source, such as fresh herbs from the produce section of the supermarket or brands of gluten-free spices, such as McCormick's single-ingredient dried herbs and spices. 

Cranberry Sauce

There's no reason cranberry sauce needs to contain gluten, so this should be an easy item to check off your list—there are multiple gluten-free cranberry sauce options available, including the ubiquitous Ocean Spray brand.

You can also make your own from fresh cranberries (you'll find bags of them in the grocery store). Or you can purchase a store-bought cranberry sauce.

If you decide to make your own cranberry sauce, you'll simply simmer cranberries with sweetener (sugar or honey work well) and spices added to taste. Cover the berries in liquid (water or juice) and cook them down to your desired consistency. It couldn't be easier—or more delicious.

Mashed Potatoes

Like cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes do not usually contain gluten. Most recipes simply call for fresh potatoes, butter, and some milk or cream.

Skin and boil the potatoes, mash them, add the butter and a little milk, and whip them with a hand mixer until they reach the right consistency. Some brands of instant mashed potatoes are gluten-free, as well, but you're better off making your own.

Meanwhile, some other favorite potato dishes such as au gratin potatoes or hash brown casserole do typically contain gluten. If you want to include these dishes at your Thanksgiving meal, be sure to follow a specific gluten-free recipe. Or, you can make substitutions with gluten-free ingredients, like using gluten-free flour to make the sauce for au gratin potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes

Some recipes for candied sweet potatoes include flour as an ingredient, but the vast majority are already gluten-free. So, you can likely use your old family recipe. The same goes for recipes using marshmallow topping, as most marshmallows sold in the United States are gluten-free. Stick with Kraft Brand or Campfire marshmallows and you'll be fine. 

If there is a gluten-containing ingredient (most likely flour) in your sweet potato recipe, simply omit it. All you really need for tasty baked sweet potatoes is butter, salt, and sweet potatoes (and brown sugar, if making the candied kind).

If making candied sweet potatoes, use a fresh box of brown sugar, as an opened box could have been cross-contaminated with a spoon during a previous baking session with wheat flour.


Many of us grew up watching our parents make Thanksgiving gravy using the turkey pan drippings, plus a little flour. Fortunately, it's incredibly easy to make gluten-free gravy—just substitute gluten-free flour or corn starch for the traditional flour. You also can use a gluten-free gravy mix if you would like.


Make sure you don't use the packets of gravy mix that come with certain turkeys. These likely contain gluten—unless specifically marked "gluten-free."

Dinner Rolls

If you're trying to make your gluten-free Thanksgiving meal indistinguishable from a traditional, gluten-filled meal, dinner rolls are the one item that may trip you up. We all know it can be difficult to make excellent gluten-free bread, and rolls are no exception.

That said, there are dinner rolls your guests might mistake for gluten-filled—the key is using an exceptional gluten-free dinner roll recipe. Alternatively, instead of rolls, you might consider deviating a little from the traditional menu by trying a gluten-free cornbread recipe, which may be a bit more forgiving to make.

Pumpkin Pie

The trick to making a delectable gluten-free pie is placing the emphasis on the filling, rather than the crust. That said, you can certainly make a good gluten-free pie crust. Another easy option is to purchase a frozen, pre-made one, which you can find at many larger supermarkets.

Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin is gluten-free, so you can safely use that as the base for your filling. Most pumpkin pie filling recipes are already gluten-free, as well, so if you have a favorite, you should be able to use it. Or try out a new one. Just make sure that all of your other ingredients—spices, mainly—are from safe sources.

A Word from Verywell

Creating an entirely gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner is not as challenging as it seems—especially if you take advantage of gluten-free shortcuts like pre-made gluten-free pie crusts or biscuit mixes. With a little extra meal planning, it is possible to keep all your guests happy, satiated, and safe.

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson is a medical journalist and an expert in celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and the gluten-free diet.